One day, a long time ago in a far away land, my 4th grade music teacher announced “Today, we’re going to learn how to play the flute.”
He walked around the classroom and handed plastic flutes to each student.
My immediate thought: “Where did these flutes come from? Have they been used before? Have other kids before us put their mouths on these flutes?
I sat there at my desk with a confused look on my face. Noticing that something was wrong, the teacher asked me if there was a problem. I voiced my questions out loud. Some of my fellow students rolled their eyes at my obstinacy while the others snickered at my pickiness. Everyone but me seemed to be ready to go with the flow.
The teacher confidently assured me that the flutes, although they had been used before, were thoroughly sanitized and were therefore safe.
I wasn’t satisfied. I couldn’t shake the feeling of being grossed out so I requested to not participate. He said it was a mandatory exercise. I told him I wasn’t going to put my mouth on that flute. He allowed me to sit out, but the school called my parents. My dad took my side and offered to buy me a new flute. I came to school the next day with my own brand new instrument.
Guess what happened next:
ALL of the other students saw my flute and requested new ones too. It turns out that many of them were grossed out as well. They felt just as I did, but they didn’t think they had a right to protest.
Long story short, the school ordered new flutes for everyone and allowed the students to keep them when the school session was over. By being grossed out, I literally changed my elementary school history.
Never allow yourself to be fooled by what other people seem to be okay with. If something is distasteful or unacceptable to you, it probably feels that way to someone else. If you suppress your feelings in order to fit in, you’ll miss out on a potential opportunity to change the way things are done.